NAMI Tyler, the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is registering participants for its free 12-week Family-To-Family education program beginning Jan. 25. The course is designed to help family members, partners and friends better understand and support loved ones living with mental illness while maintaining their own well-being.

The class has been offered in Tyler about twice a year over the last five years.

“The NAMI Tyler group has grown out of it, to a large volunteer advocacy group,” said Mildred Witte, NAMI Tyler president. “People report a tremendous help from this class.”

The course includes information on illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and other mental health conditions. In addition, it includes coping strategies and skills training in communication, crisis intervention and problem solving.

The same topics are offered each year but are improved upon as information is updated, Mrs. Witte said.

Topics include the biology of mental illness and the medications used for treatment, interacting with someone with a mental illness, how to relate to someone who may not be rational, crisis intervention and how to advocate for a loved one with mental illness.

The Family-to-Family education program is included in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices. Trained peer volunteers teach the classes.

The classes will meet from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for 12 consecutive Mondays at First Presbyterian Church. Classes are free, but registration is required. Registration is limited to 25 people.

Mrs. Witte said she’s noticed locally that more community members are raising awareness about mental illness, and they are making strides in reducing stigma.

“I think that we’ve come a long way,” she said. “When we first started in this, people were hesitant to be associated with mental illness. They felt that society itself didn’t understand mental illness. It’s come so far now, with an open dialogue.”

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization charged with improving lives of the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Volunteers work to raise awareness and provide education, advocacy and support programs for people with mental illness and their loved ones.

Twitter: @cdillard_TMT



What: Family-To-Family courses on mental illness

When: 6-8 p.m. each Monday for 12 weeks beginning Jan. 25

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 230 W Rusk St.

Info: Call 903-245-4231 to register


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